Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s

By David Flynn, November 3 2018
Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s

Virgin Atlantic will launch an all-new Upper Class business class seat in mid-2019, going head to head with the next-gen Club World seat of British Airways.

Both airlines will debut their latest business class seats on Airbus A350-1000 jets, although Virgin Atlantic is more actively talking up its seat as a 'revolution' over its current design (shown below) compared to previous BA expectations of a more measured 'evolution'.

Virgin is believed to have locked down the seat's design ahead of a possible media reveal in the first quarter of 2019, with the seat itself believed to see Virgin adopt a more conventional 1-2-1 layout.

“We’ve seen it, I’ve sat in it, it’s a fantastic seat,” enthuses Oliver Byers, Virgin Atlantic’s senior vice president of sales and customer loyalty.

“What you’ll see is that it’s a next-generation product but it’s incredibly Virgin Atlantic," Byers tells our UK sibling Business Traveller. "It’s exactly what you would think Virgin Atlantic is in terms of the look and feel, the design, the feel of the cabin and the warmth of the environment."

Virgin Atlantic has 12 Airbus 350-1000s on order, with its flights from London to Asia – specifically Hong Kong and Shanghai – tipped to be among early routes.

AusBT review: Review: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 'Upper Class' (Hong Kong-London)

“What we really want to do is grow both of these markets over time by first looking at how we can add more capacity through going from a (Boeing) 787 to an A350-1000, and then in the future whether we can have second flights," Byers predicts.

However, the new Upper Class seat isn't expected to appear on Virgin's existing Airbus A330s or Boeing 787s.

Also read: BA to launch new Club World business class seat in July 2019


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 339

This could be very interesting as Virgin Atlantic have has always had an eye for details.. Granted, the current Upper Class is long in the tooth, however, it was revolutionary in its day.

So I’m expecting good things. NOT quite Qatar Airways QSuit good, but something not far off.

22 Jan 2018

Total posts 99

Seeing as it’s VS, I’ll believe the “revolution” only when I see it.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 441

This isn't about casinos and gyms, this is about a seat awaiting rollout. Virgin across all airlines has got a very good track record of having good quality hard products first.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

26 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

Well based on pic above it looks like getting more seats in middle. I don't really think that's revolutionary!!

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1199

That's the current Upper Class.

Always a bit worries when someone claims their new seat to be revolutionary. The last revolutionary seat was the W seat on the QF 789 and we all know how that turned out.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 68

Are they still serving 'bangers'n'mash' in Upper Crap? Embarrasing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Oct 2018

Total posts 9

I love sausage and mash with butter melting on it.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 13

I don't like the look of the window seats facing away from the window. I'd prefer them angled towards the windows like on VA's A330's.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 13

They seem to have forgotten that couples like to be able to converse on a flight.

Delta Air Lines - SkyMiles

16 Oct 2017

Total posts 157

To be hoped that they get rid of the "coffin class" layout.


19 Sep 2013

Total posts 203

I find the existing seat layout, same as used in other airlines, very confining with nowhere to store anything with ready access. Also the confusion when couples who have booked A/B seats realise that wasn't a good move and then the attempts to re-seat them elsewhere. So a change to this arrangement would surely be welcomed.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 163

That herringbone (or sardine) configuration looks quite disturbing to me.

06 Oct 2018

Total posts 10

Plain terrible seats.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Nov 2015

Total posts 14

I quite like the original Upper Class, still in use on the 747 and 330 as well as AirNZ, but the one with the glass panels as in the photo is awful, significantly less space around the shoulders, and it really does feel coffin like. That said it is a bit old now and has been overtaken by better products. Hopefully VS will come up with something to leapfrog the competition again as I’m looking forward to trying the VA/VS combo To London via HK.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

13 Mar 2015

Total posts 79

Horrible design...claustrophobic...narrow that to move out you have to close everything... absolutely it feels like cows on truck to the slaughter... NZ is the same today. it feels "confined" to a slot... BA is the same in different configuration... charging the same or more and making more money... I prefer to go where my money has more value than a cluster. 


07 Aug 2015

Total posts 15

looks a bit like the terrible CX - 747 layout I flew with in 2011. A coffin style as already said where no storage and the difficulty of turning made the journey AWFUL. never again!


09 Mar 2016

Total posts 56

My experience of this config on both Virgin and Air NZ is not totally negative. The seat is actually very comfortable and the bed even better. I've had some really good sleeps on them. The FAs dress up the beds to make them even more comfortable (if only SQ would develop a comfortable bed in J). I have never felt like I'm in a coffin, nor too confined. I do hate not being able to look out the window without needing a chiropractor later, and it's not much chop being so eye-to-eye and toe-to-toe with people I don't know and don't wish to know (my, some people have ugly feet and hideous socks.)

13 Feb 2017

Total posts 21

The seat shown isn’t the current model - it’s the failed Upper Class Dream Suite which was too tightly packed.

The Virgin Atlantic / Air NZ seat is arguably the best to sleep in of any airline seats.

Sure, it doesn’t face the windows and storage space is poor. But still, at least you don’t have to stick your legs in a hole under somebody else’s seat.

I’d still pick the NZ seat over the VA or QF seat on any night flight!

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Atlantic plans all-new business class for Airbus A350s